I had planned to post my big pre-election prognostications, but there may be some changes due to, surprise here, current events.
I am sure that, unless you have been in a coma or undersea or something, that you have heard of the sordid tale of former Congressman Mark Foley (R-FL).
Now, as in any politicomedia scandal, the fallout is spreading. There have been calls for Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert (R-IL) to resign because he may have known about the alleged abuse as long as a year ago. This touches other members of the Republican majority in the House, such as Rep. Thomas Reynolds (R-NY), who may be implicated in a cover-up of Foley's alleged disgusting behavior. Others in "backpedal" mode because of alleged knowledge and a possible cover-up are Reps. John Boehner (R-OH), who is the House Majority Leader, and John Shimkus (R-IL), who oversaw the page program when Foley was, ahem, active with it.
Naturally, this is all made more interesting in an eletion year, especially one when there has been so much talk about the G.O.P. losing ground and the chance of them losing the twelve year hold they have had on the legislature.
What do I think of the whole thing? First off, no-one should ever make light of an adult making untoward advances on a minor. Ever. Secondly, Foley's hypocrisy exceeds even that of most pols with his record of legislation to protect children from predators. His claims, thirdly, made all at the same time that he is gay, was molested by a clergman and is an alcoholic seem like a whole bunch to admit at once.
Realizing that one is homosexual does not happen all at once, nor does it help to explain alleged sexual advances on children. Having been molested as a child is a grave tragedy, but one that seems to have been revealed at just the right time. Also, I don't buy for a second the "I was drunk" defense. I have tried it to get out of stuff that was, well, not a felony and it never works. Seems that some of Foley's colleagues think so too.
Should Dennis Hastert be forced/compelled to resign? I think not right now. Why, if he knew? First, nothing has been proven, no-one has been charged and the speculation is so deep you could fish for marlin in it. It has been clear for a while that the House G.O.P leadership needed a change after things like the Jack Abramoff ordeal and the bribery scandals of Bob Ney (R-OH) and Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-CA). Clearly, a change is needed.
Why not now? With the real possibility of the G.O.P. losing its hold on the House, the problem might just take care of itself. Different sorts of leadership are needed in oppositon than in majority and Hastert and Boehner (who himself took over for the disgraced Tom DeLay) might not be the guys for the job. My advice: wait until after the election is over and go from there.
Will the Foley ordeal be seen as the last nail in the G.O.P Congressional coffin? Things looked bad before and, in my opinion, this cannot be helping them get any better. This midterm election will be a headhunt against incumbents, as people seem to be losing confidence in their leadership. This effects the G.O.P. more because, well, there are more of them. Seeing as people are not willing to look beyond the two-party system and see that there are other options, they will vote for "the other guy."
Will this keep the so-called "values voters" (read Christian fundamentalists) away from the polls in November? Here again, Foley cannot be helping in any way garner the megachurch, creepy evangelical crowd. Voters are so flaky when it comes to turning out, though, so who can say? Foley is a sufficient condition of a G.O.P. downfall, not a necessary one.
Will a Democratic Congress make it all better? Now, let's not be silly.
Would you really feel any better in knowing that a different group of lunatics is running the asylum?
Year in review
2 weeks ago